Mauthausen concentration camp

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Mauthausen concentration camp (Europe)
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Mauthausen concentration camp
Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria
Plan of the Mauthausen camp (as of May 2010)

The Mauthausen concentration camp was the largest concentration camp of the National Socialists in the area of ​​Austria , the Ostmark , and from 1942 the Alpine and Danube Reichsgaue . It was located 20 kilometers east of Linz in Mauthausen and existed from August 8, 1938 until its dissolution after the liberation of its inmates by US troops on May 5, 1945. Around 200,000 people were imprisoned in Mauthausen and its sub-camps who have lost more than 100,000. A reminder and memorial site of the Republic of Austria has been located on the site of the former concentration camp since 1947.

Entrance to the camp (1942/43), photo from the Federal Archives
Entrance building to Mauthausen concentration camp 2014
Entrance building with main gate Mauthausen concentration camp 2014
Prisoner barracks and roll call area


Establishment of the camp

Heinrich Himmler (middle right) visits Mauthausen concentration camp with Ernst Kaltenbrunner (far left), August Eigruber , Georg Bachmayer and Franz Ziereis (far right) in 1941, photo from the Federal Archives
Soviet prisoners in front of a barrack

On March 22, 1938, ten days after the “Anschluss” of Austria , the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler announced in Linz: “The Führer has approved and ordered that the Austrian Schutzstaffel may set up two standards, one standard of the available troops with 3 storm bans and a standard of the skull associations with also three storm bans, which the latter will come to Upper Austria. "

This was only an indirect announcement of the establishment of the concentration camp, because at that time the SS death's head associations were only used in the concentration camps; but also in March 1938 Gauleiter August Eigruber announced: We Upper Austrians will receive another, special award for our achievements during the fighting. The concentration camp for traitors from all over Austria comes to Upper Austria.

Foundation of the Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH

Hanged inmate

The history of the Mauthausen concentration camp began with the establishment of a GmbH by the SS . The decisive factor for this was the expansion of power and the desired independence of the SS from the state apparatus.

On April 29, 1938, shortly after Austria was annexed to the Third Reich, the Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH (DEST) was founded in Berlin . For the DEST it was from its inception advantageous that the head office of all concentration camps until 16 March 1942 only at the SS Main Office (SS FHA) and from 19 March 1942 at the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA) was .

So the DEST could access cheap labor from the concentration camps from the beginning. One of the first acts of DEST was the acquisition and commissioning of quarries near Flossenbürg , Gusen and Mauthausen. This was also decisive for the establishment of concentration camps near these cities. There were important granite quarries near Mauthausen and Gusen . At that time, granite was needed in large quantities for the so-called Führerbauten, and at Mauthausen and Gusen there was also the fact that Hitler intended to make Linz a “Führer City”, for which large amounts of granite were also needed. Mauthausen and Gusen are only 15 and 12 kilometers east of Linz on the Danube.

Establishment of the warehouse

Administration building of the DEST work group management in St. Georgen / Gusen
Wiener Graben quarry (1941/42), photo from the Federal Archives

On May 16, 1938, the SS opened the Mauthausen quarry with 30 civilian workers , and on August 18, 1938 the quarries were finally handed over to the DEST. At the same time, the quarries in Gusen were also acquired by DEST on May 25, 1938 through purchase and later through expropriation and subsequently formed the center of the Mauthausen granite works with work group management in St. Georgen an der Gusen .

The first prisoners in Mauthausen were 300 Austrian and individual German police detainees in preventive detention and arrived at the concentration camp on August 8, 1938 from the Dachau concentration camp. With them came the first guards of SS death's head associations . The first commandant of the Mauthausen concentration camp was Albert Sauer .

On November 27, 1938, the first train with prisoners arrived at Mauthausen station.

Main camp Mauthausen - camp level III

New arrival of Soviet prisoners of war (October 1941), photo from the Federal Archives

The Mauthausen concentration camp was expanded into an independent camp in March 1939.

By 1945 around 200,000 people had been deported to Mauthausen and its sub- camps . They were people with over 30 nationalities. About 2.5 percent of the inmates were women. Young people and children were also arrested and murdered.

For unknown reasons, the Mauthausen concentration camp was the only Category III concentration camp in the Reich. Category III meant annihilation through work . One reason for this may be the isolated location of the warehouse at the quarries. The decree by Reinhard Heydrich (Chief of the Security Police, SD and SS-Obergruppenführer) literally states that camp level III is "... for heavily burdened, incorrigible and at the same time criminally convicted and asocial, that is, prisoners of Mauthausen who are barely educable" .

A total of 197,464 prisoners were imprisoned in the concentration camp. The last prisoner number - 139,317 - was issued on May 3, 1945, whereby the Soviet prisoners of war who were murdered by " Aktion Kugel " were not counted.

Around 120,000 prisoners perished or were murdered as a result of forced labor in the countless commandos and subcamps of the camp, more than a third of them in the nearby Gusen concentration camps .

Warehouse brothel

Storage brothel, photo from the Federal Archives
Prisoners of the Ebensee satellite camp, photo from May 7, 1945

On Himmler's orders, the first of ten prisoner brothels was built in Mauthausen in June 1942 . Women who belonged to the prisoner category “anti-social” were forced to do this. Many of these women who were forced into prostitution came from the Ravensbrück women concentration camp . If women contracted a sexually transmitted disease , they were made available for medical trials . Pregnant women were subjected to a forced abortion .

Until the 1990s, those affected were not considered victims of Nazi rule and received no compensation.


Former concentration camp - front view

The commandant of the Mauthausen concentration camp was initially Albert Sauer , who officially held this position from August 1, 1938 to April 1, 1939. From mid-February 1939, Franz Ziereis acted as camp commandant; he remained so until the dissolution in 1945. He was supported by an I., II. and III. Protective custody camp leader as head of the prisoner camp and the commander of the SS guards. SS-Hauptsturmführer Georg Bachmayer acted as I. Protective Custody Camp Leader from March 1940 to 1945 , SS-Obersturmführer Johann Altfuldisch as II. Protective Custody Camp Leader between 1938 and 1945 and III. Protective custody camp leader for a time SS-Hauptscharführer Anton Streitwieser, who was later promoted to officer .

On May 23, 1944, SS-Obersturmführer Otto Riemer was deposed as commandant of the prisoner camp. SS-Obersturmführer Anton Ganz became his successor. He had previously served in Mauthausen, Ternberg and Wiener Neustadt. In May 1944 there were four SS leaders, 128 SS Unterführer and a 475-strong guard under his command.

See also: Category: Personnel in Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Breakout and manhunt

On the night of February 2, 1945, about 500 Soviet officers attempted to escape from death block 20 together; almost all of them were murdered during the following three-week persecution (see also the so-called “ duty to post ” the concentration camp guards). This war crime became well known in 1994 for the film Hare Hunt - There is no mercy for sheer cowardice . Some of the eleven survivors were hidden or cared for by the population until the end of the war. In May 2001 the first memorial stone was erected in Ried in der Riedmark . On May 7, 2006, a memorial was ceremoniously handed over in Gallneukirchen , where around 20 refugees, who had already been tortured, were murdered.

Liberation 1945

Mauthausen concentration camp after liberation on May 6, 1945

Even before the war, should additional incinerators that before the demolition of the crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau had been dismantled, are set up. It has not been established whether this plan was delayed until the end of the war by the SS site manager himself or by prisoners.

Shortly before the liberation, prisoners were murdered in the concentration camp, the exact number of which is unknown.

In April 1945, the SS began to destroy all files referring to their crimes in the camp. This also included dismantling the gas chamber , which had been set up in the basement of the infirmary in 1941. The technical equipment of the gas chamber such as the gas filler neck, exhaust fan and doors were dismantled, but could later be secured on the camp site. The SS men then fled and the prisoners were guarded by the Volkssturm and the Vienna fire brigade .

On May 5, 1945, the camp was liberated by the advancing troops of the 11th US Armored Division of the 3rd US Army . Louis Häfliger , who was a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to accompany a food transport in the camp, played a major role in this .

The Mauthausen concentration camps and Gusen I , II and III were the penultimate to be liberated. The Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig was liberated four days later.

Mauthausen oath

“Spending many years in the camp deepened our understanding of the values ​​of fraternization among peoples. Loyal to these ideals, we swear, in solidarity and by mutual agreement, to continue the struggle against imperialism and national hatred. Just as the world was freed from the threat of Hitler's overwhelming power through the joint effort of all peoples, so we must regard this freedom that has been won as the common good of all peoples. Peace and freedom are the guarantees of the happiness of peoples, and the building of the world on new foundations of social and national justice is the only way to peaceful cooperation between states and peoples. After freedom has been achieved and the freedom of our nations has been fought for, we want to keep the international solidarity of the camp in our memories and draw the lessons from it: We will tread a common path, the path of indivisible freedom for all peoples, the path of mutual respect, the path of working together on the great work of building a new, fair, free world for all. We will always remember the great, bloody sacrifices with which this new world was fought for from all nations. In memory of the blood shed by all peoples, in memory of the millions of brothers murdered by Nazi fascism, we vow that we will never leave this path. We want to erect the most beautiful monument that we can erect to the fallen soldiers of freedom on the secure foundations of an international community: THE WORLD OF THE FREE MAN. We address the whole world with the call: Help us with this work. Long live international solidarity! Long live freedom!"


The death stairs today

The Austrian federal government has set up a museum in a building of the former concentration camp ; the rest of the camp and the adjoining quarry are today a memorial .

Many nations and groups of victims have created monuments and plaques on the site for their victims and for the liberation struggle. There is also a memorial from the GDR with the words of Bertolt Brecht : " O Germany, pale mother / how did your sons mess you up / that you sit among the peoples / a mockery or a fear!"

Since 2003, a newly built visitor center has also been located outside the site , designed by Herwig Mayer , Christoph Schwarz and Karl Peyrer-Heimstätt .

In the largest contemporary witness project of the kind after the Shoa Foundation by Steven Spielberg , the Mauthausen Survivor Documentation Project questioned 859 survivors from 20 nations according to the same pattern, also about the time afterwards: "How do the survivors explain their survival?" 2000 hours of interviews lie on film and MiniDisc . The memorial's visitor center shows 20 edited videos. The unevaluated material awaits the financing and translation of the mostly mother tongue surveys.

May 5th, the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp by the Allies, has been celebrated in Austria since 1998 as a national day of remembrance against violence and racism in memory of the victims of National Socialism .

In January 2007 hurricane Kyrill caused severe damage to some of the buildings in the former concentration camp, in particular to Barrack 1. Measures were taken to secure the damaged buildings and the restoration continued until 2009.

An archaeological project is also being carried out as part of the redesign of the memorial.

On November 27, 2007, a memorial plaque was unveiled at Mauthausen train station. The first train arrived here on November 27, 1938; In the years that followed, tens of thousands of prisoners had to walk the more than three kilometers to the camp.

With effect from January 1, 2017, the federal agency “KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen / Mauthausen Memorial” (short: KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen) was established with its own legal personality. It is intended to help anchor and preserve knowledge about the National Socialist mass crimes in the former Mauthausen concentration camp, in the former Gusen concentration camp and in all subcamps, and to promote social reflection on their causes and consequences, on references to any form of To raise awareness of racism , anti-Semitism , xenophobia and genocide and to counter them.

In 2018, a Mauthausen Memorial Research Prize will be awarded for the first time for excellent research on the history of the Mauthausen concentration camp complex and related topics. This is intended to stimulate research on the history of the National Socialist camps in Austria, with particular emphasis on promoting young talent research. The research award is endowed with € 5000 and can be split between two award winners.

Right-wing extremist activities around the memorial

Enclosing wall (photo 2002)

In January 2006 it became public that members of the Braunauer Bulldogs football fan club had posed in front of the concentration camp memorial with the Hitler salute. Some of them were sentenced to conditional prison terms in the same year for re-activating the Nazis .

On the night of February 11-12, 2009, the evening before the commemoration of the beginning of the Austrian Civil War in 1934 , the outer wall of the memorial was smeared with right-wing extremist slogans for the first time . In February 2010, candidates from the Wels citizens' list “ Die Bunten ” posed in the area of ​​the former extermination rooms. In March 2010, 13,000 people in a Facebook group called for the Mauthausen concentration camp to be reopened for " child molesters ". In May 2014, the memorial was the target of a neo-Nazi smear campaign for the third time . This time a 20 meter long slogan was sprayed on a wall.

On the night of May 7th to 8th 2015, the 70th day of remembrance for the end of World War II and two days before the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the liberation, the official website of the Mauthausen Memorial was attacked and hacked . The content has been replaced by child pornography images and derogatory slogans. The Interior Ministry , which oversees the memorial, has the site that is managed by an external company, to restore the original state from the immediate network can take. Investigations have been launched against the perpetrators.

Judicial processing

Leopold Figl Monument
Bulgarian monument

In November 2018, a former security guard at the concentration camp was charged by the Berlin public prosecutor's office for aiding and abetting murder in more than 36,000 cases. According to this, Hans H. is said to have worked in the Mauthausen concentration camp between summer 1944 and spring 1945. According to the public prosecutor's office, he wanted to promote or at least facilitate the killings of the camp inmates by the main perpetrators through his guard duty. The background to the indictment is the case law of the Federal Court of Justice that a conviction for aiding and abetting murder in concentration camps does not necessarily require proof of involvement in specific killings, but that mere involvement in the killing machinery can be sufficient.

On August 9, 2019, a list of the Spanish prisoners murdered in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp was published by the Spanish Ministry of Justice.

Memorial plaques for 40 Dutch victims of the England game as well as 7 British SOE agents who jumped off in France in the courtyard of the detention building (1968)
Dutch national monument by Appie Drielsma (1986) with the names of Dutch people who perished in Mauthausen in 1660

Main camp

Establishment of the camp

Prisoner letter from the Mauthausen main camp
Postage stamp of the GDR, 1978

The task of the first prisoners was to build the first four barracks and work in the quarry. A few months later the camp already had 14 barracks, and most of the prisoners were deployed in the quarry.

The camp was later divided into three parts: Camp I, II and III:

First of all, Camp I was built. These first 20 barracks were built between 1938 and 1940. Camp II consisted of barracks 21 to 24 and was built in 1941, and camp III consisted of six barracks and was built in spring 1944.

There was also the deliberately misleading so-called sick camp , which was located south of camp I. This sick camp was initially also called the “Russian camp” because it was actually built in October 1941 for Soviet prisoners of war. This part of the camp consisted of ten barracks. On March 14, 1943, 684 sick people were transferred from the special area to the “Russian camp”, which now served as a death shelter and was regularly prepared through selections or through “actions” to take in further emaciated and sick prisoners. In the spring of 1944, 9,000 prisoners were counted in the main camp, almost half of them vegetating in the medical camp without being supplied. At the end of January 1945, most of the prisoners from Auschwitz and during February “evacuated” from Groß-Rosen and Sachsenhausen came to the medical camp . The arrival of the evacuated prisoners from the Vienna camps and the Lower Danube in April made the situation even worse.

In addition to the sick camp, there was also the tent camp , which was located north of camp I. It consisted of six large and eight small military tents, was occupied in December 1944 and was part of the main camp until April 8, 1945.

There was also a detention building, which was built from 1939 to 1940 and contained 33 cells of 5.4 m² each. Then there was the so-called sick bay, a stone building in Camp II that was not completed, but the left half of which could be moved into in 1944. A third crematorium furnace was put into operation there in April 1945.

Finally, there were the laundry and kitchen barracks, which were built between 1938 and 1941. A normal barrack in the camp was 52.61 meters long and 8.22 meters wide. It was also divided into two parts: room “A” on the left and room “B” on the right. Each room consisted of two rooms, the lounge and a bedroom. Most prisoners were only allowed to stay in the bedroom, however, as the lounge was also reserved for prison officials as a bedroom.

The main camp was secured by a 2.5 meter high enclosure wall with a length of 1668 meters. The wall was crowned by a fence that was electrically charged with 380 volts. The exception was the northern part of Camp I, where there was only an electric fence at the rear of Barracks 5, 10 and 15. The sick camp had a double barbed wire fence that was charged with high voltage. The total area of ​​camps I, II and III, together with the roll call area, was about 25,000 m², the sick camp was approximately 15,000 m² and the tent camp was 16,000 m².

Atrocities of the SS

Everyday life in the camp was designed in such a way that he "destroyed" the inmate, robbed him of his dignity and tortured him as much as possible. The prisoners had to submit to every order, and the SS men had an inexhaustible imagination when it came to “destroying” and humiliating the prisoners. The prisoners had to z. B. standing at attention for hours or jumping out of the window 10 to 20 times at night and rolling in the dirt and then washing your clothes.

During the Mauthausen typhoid - epidemics 1940-1941 each night were conducted vexatious Lauskontrollen. Often a prisoner was simply killed or drowned if he had lice. The inscription on the posters posted in the Mauthausen barracks (a large black louse on a yellow background) could hardly be more drastic: A louse - your death .

Death stairs

Prisoners on the death stairs

One of the particularly serious atrocities was the so-called death staircase, a stone staircase that connected the “Wiener Graben” quarry with the actual Mauthausen concentration camp. Several times a day, those involved in the stone gangs dragged blocks of granite up the 186 steps of the stairs 31 meters up. The "death staircase" was the site of numerous accidents and murders of prisoners, perpetrated by Kapos and the SS guards.

Inscription at the foot of the death stairs:

“At the time of the concentration camp, your today even and normal high levels were randomly lined up, unequal sized boulders of various shapes. The boulders, often half a meter high, required the greatest effort to climb. Among other things, the SS amused themselves by kicking the last rows of a descending column and slapping them with the butt so that they tumbled down the steps in a desolate heap, dragging their men in front with them. At the end of a working day, when the march into the camp began with a stone on their shoulder, the SS men who finished the day would drive stragglers with blows and kicks. Those who couldn't keep up ended up on these death stairs. "

"Parachutist wall"

"Parachutist wall"

The way from the head of the death stairs up to the camp leads in part just past the rock face of the quarry. A 50-meter-high, almost vertical rock wall was used by the SS to push prisoners down, where their bodies were either shattered by the impact on the stone or they drowned in the rainwater pond.

Inscription at the foot of the "parachute jumper wall":

“Many hundreds of prisoners were thrown down this steep wall in the quarry. They shattered at the foot of the wall or drowned in the deep pools of water. Often inmates who could no longer endure the agony rushed down this wall. The SS called these doomed persons 'parachutists' with a gruesome joke. The first group of Dutch Jews who came to Mauthausen in the summer of 1942 was hurled down this wall by the SS. "

Simon Wiesenthal reports:

“Jews in Mauthausen were rarely shot. The 'Wiener Graben' was intended for them. On a single day, on March 31, 1943, 1,000 Dutch Jews were thrown from a height of over 50 meters in front of Heinrich Himmler's eyes . The SS called them 'parachutists'. The brown people enjoyed themselves! "

Camp penalties

The striped prisoner uniform in the Mauthausen concentration camp, so that the prisoners can always be recognized as such and any attempt to escape is prevented

The daily routine of the camp was different from the daily routine of other concentration camps, which was mainly due to the fact that SS-Gruppenführer Theodor Eicke had his own special methods of running a camp - especially with regard to his catalog of punishments. These punishments accompanied the entire day. Eicke had previously gained "experience" in the Dachau concentration camp . He also adopted the penal ordinances issued in the Dachau concentration camp.

The official punitive measures in the Mauthausen concentration camp were administrative fines (withdrawal of food, detention ), arrest sentences, dark arrest and corporal punishment . The administrative penalties generally included detention under the supervision of an SS subordinate, a "ban on writing letters" or a ban on receiving letters, deprivation of food when fully employed and, in the worst case, admission to the concentration camp's penal company (until autumn 1943 and for almost all foreigners ), which amounted to a death sentence. The punishment company had the hardest work to do; B. Carrying the heavy granite blocks up the so-called "death stairs". This was the name of the staircase that led from the quarry up to the camp, although the condition did not correspond to that of a staircase, as they were very steep and the distance between the steps was very different. Today the 186 steps of the stairs are easier to climb as the stairs have been renovated. The arrest sentences were mostly connected with caning; the more stringent arrest was carried out in the darkroom, without the possibility of lying down or sitting. Corporal punishment primarily involved striking with an ox pizzle . The number of strikes was between 5 and 75. If there were more than 25 strikes, the prisoner , regardless of nationality, had to count out loud in German, and if he miscounted or made a mistake, he would start over. According to the regulations, the criminal act should only take place in the presence of an SS doctor, which was never the case.

On the basis of an instruction from Heinrich Himmler dated December 2, 1942, “ corporal punishment should only be used as a last resort”. As a result, you always had to report a flogging sentence to the inspection of the concentration camp , which was often far too complicated for the camp leader. From that date on, corporal punishment was very rarely used in the camp. As a further disciplinary treatment there was the so-called goal standing or penalty standing . The prisoners affected had to stand for hours, days and nights near the camp gate while they were beaten or kicked by passing SS men "for fun". One of the worst abuses or punishments was the " hanging on stakes ", which was often perpetrated in Mauthausen. The prisoner's hands were "tied behind his back with a rope about the size of a finger. The victim was then hung on the crossbar of a barrack at a height of about 2 meters using this rope, so that the body floated freely in the air. The whole body weight was on the backward bent joints. ”This torture led to great stretching pain of the muscles , to a clouding of consciousness and after 30 minutes to unconsciousness .


Crematorium furnace No. 3 in Mauthausen concentration camp

Until May 1940, the bodies of the Mauthausen prisoners were cremated in the crematoria in Steyr and Linz . The camp's own crematoria were set up in Mauthausen and Gusen from 1940, and later also in the Melk and Ebensee satellite camps. The companies Kori and J. A. Topf & Sons set up a total of three furnace systems in the main camp in Mauthausen, which were located in the basement area of ​​the detention building and the infirmary and lastly consisted of three different types of cremation ovens. They were not in use at the same time, as the double muffle incinerator (No. 3) was not put into operation until April 1945, when the cremation furnace No. 2 had already been shut down due to a lack of heating oil. Up to eight corpses were cremated in the kilns at the same time, the ashes mostly tipped over the embankment in the so-called “ash dump” or scattered on various construction sites.

Furnace no. Manufacturer combustion
Heating means Location in Mauthausen concentration camp Operating period Whereabouts
1 Kori 1 Metallurgical coke Basement of the detention building May 5, 1940 - May 1945 at the original site
2 Kori 1 Heating oil Execution room
in the basement between the detention building and the infirmary
May 21, 1942 - 1944, was shut down by the SS due to the war-related oil shortage Dismantled after liberation, taken to the Czech Republic by survivors , components are now stored in the Terezín Memorial .
3 Pot & Sons 2 Metallurgical coke Basement of the infirmary April 10, 1945 - May 1945 at the original site

Insufficient food

The catering in Mauthausen:

"In the morning: About 5 deciliters of extract soup with a little fat or 5 deciliters of mostly unsweetened black substitute coffee. Midday: 7 to 10 deciliters of turnip stew, which consisted of around 200 g of grated fodder beet, 50 g of potatoes, 20 g of fat, 20 g of meat, a little flour or nutrients and water. In the evening: 300 to 400 g brown bread and 25 g sausage or less often 25 g margarine. On Saturday evening or Sunday there was a tablespoon of jam and a tablespoon of curd cheese instead of the sausage. "

The calorie content of the food was nowhere near enough for the heavy labor the inmates had to do. The situation was better in some subcamps. However, most of the inmates were malnourished. From 1942 onwards, the sick received only half the ration of the workers.

“From hunger in the district, i. H. 'Corpses grown' in the camp hospital. If a prisoner died in the hard-to-reach upper beds, then the neighbors kept his death a secret and 'caught' for him. They may have slept with the corpse all night. My neighbor on the 20th block bred a corpse for two days. "

- Milos Vitek : former Mauthausen inmate (AMM V / 3/1)

Labor input

The work was always 11 hours. The exception were the stonemason apprentices who worked 9 hours. The inmates were woken up at 4:45 a.m. in summer and 5:15 a.m. in winter. The same procedure then took place every morning: the inmates had to get up immediately and make their beds perfect, then quickly get dressed and queue for the toilets and the bathroom (8 toilets and 5 minutes for 250 to 600 inmates), then quickly the Arrange the locker and then queue again - this time for the meal. Then the train for the roll call took place in front of the barracks . This was always the same: in rows of twenty, arranged in rows of barracks to the right and left, the prisoners waited on the roll call square for the SS men to appear. After a report and a "hats off, hats on", the roll call was over and the camp elder called out: "Form work detail". After a short time the columns were able to march to their respective workplaces. Until the spring of 1944 there were three roll calls a day, in the morning, in the afternoon and one last time in the evening. After that there were only two, in the morning and in the evening. The prisoners who did their work in the workshops and within the main camp still had to go to roll call at noon, with the exception of the service personnel who worked in the SS accommodations and precincts. In the evening, after the prisoners returned from work, depending on the season from 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m., the evening roll call took place. This roll call was always carried out precisely because the time required for it was deducted from the prisoners' free time. If it went well, the roll call lasted only 30 minutes, but sometimes also an hour or two and in special cases, such as B. an execution or escape , up to three hours. After roll call, the food was distributed. Theoretically, the prisoners were then free until 8:45 p.m., but this almost never happened because they had to queue for a long time for the toilets and washrooms. At 8:45 p.m. all inmates had to be in their respective barracks, and from 9:00 p.m. it was bed rest. However, lice, clothing or locker checks were very often ordered in the evenings in order to harass the inmates and to reduce their night 's sleep. The prisoners were often only able to sleep six hours.


SS sports field at Mauthausen concentration camp

The prisoners were free on Sunday afternoon. They used their free time to adjust prisoners' clothes, do mending work, darn socks (if they had any, the majority of inmates only had foot rags ), cut their hair, and shave. There were seldom performances by the prisoners' band or boxing or football tournaments on Sundays . However, few inmates had the strength to take part. From 1943 on there were also soccer teams of the individual ethnic groups in Mauthausen.

Poison gas in the Mauthausen concentration camp

Murders of prisoners using poisonous gases were committed in Hartheim between 1941 and 1944, between 1941 and 1942 with a gas truck between Mauthausen and Gusen and from 1942 to 1945 in a gas chamber on the site itself.


The places of execution (gallows, shooting sites, gas chambers), crematoria and brothels set up in the Mauthausen concentration camp were designated as special buildings. In official parlance, the gas chamber was camouflaged as a “disinfection facility”, and transports to the Hartheim gassing facility were designated as “Sanatorium Dachau”, “Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Ybbs an der Donau”, “Erholungsheim”, “Recreation camp” and “Sanatorium Bad” Ischl "veiled.

Gas chamber

Mauthausen concentration camp, basement below the arrest block and the district block: A - stairs to the courtyard of the arrest block; B - stairs to roll call square; C– stairs to the courtyard of the district block; D– toilet; E - lounge and washroom; F– SS office; G– engine room; H– dissecting room; I - mortuary refrigerator; J– execution room; K - gas chamber; L - gas cell; M– equipment room; N– undressing room; O - laundry room; P– basement of the district block; 1 - cremation furnace No. 1; 2– dissecting table; 3– gallows; 4– neck shot corner; 5– location of cremation furnace No. 2; 6– walled entrances; 7 - cremation furnace No. 3; 8– Outlet for furnace operation.
Mauthausen concentration camp, view of the gas chamber (status 2009)

The gas chamber was built in the immediate vicinity of the crematorium in the autumn of 1941 in the basement of the shell of the infirmary. The facility with which the Zyklon B gas was fed into the chamber was located in a small adjoining room . The gassings were mainly directed by the commanding officer of the crematorium, SS-Hauptscharführer Martin Roth, but other SS leaders such as the on-site doctor Eduard Krebsbach also directed such murders and operated the gas filling device. In the gas chamber, 30 to 80 people were murdered, in some cases up to 100 people. There is no consensus in research about the completion and start of the gassings, but none of the SS leaders denied the existence of a gas chamber in the post-war trials. Camp commandant Franz Ziereis stated in a questioning on May 24, 1945 about the gas chamber:

“In the Mauthausen camp, by order of the SS medical officer, Dr. Krebsbach built a gassing plant that was camouflaged as a bath room. In this camouflaged room prisoners were gassed with Zyklon B ... "

The dates of completion and commissioning are either March or May 1942. The gas chamber was initially used almost exclusively for officially ordered executions and only in the last phase of the war was it also used to murder the sick or unfit for work. The exact number of victims could not be determined, but on the basis of the available documents and the testimony of witnesses, a minimum of 3455 is named who were murdered in the Mauthausen gas chamber. In April 1945, 1200 to 1400 people were murdered in the Mauthausen gas chamber. The last gassing in a National Socialist concentration camp took place on April 28, 1945 in the Mauthausen gas chamber.

The structural features of the gas chamber have largely been preserved, but today's visitor does not find the original condition. Before the camp was liberated, the SS had technical equipment in the gas chamber, such as doors, exhaust fan and gas filler neck, dismantled and stored on the premises. They were found there by the US Army, described and illustrated in the “Taylor Report”, but were lost except for the fan. When the memorial was set up in 1948/1949, the gas chamber was reconstructed with other doors and the wall of the adjacent gas cell was rebuilt. The surviving prisoners were concerned with illustration and a worthy memorial, not with scientific documentation. Revisionists took advantage of this deficiency, denying the earlier existence of a gas chamber or speaking of a “dummy”. The building archaeological findings determined in 2009, however, confirm the information given earlier on the gas chamber.

Gassing car

In Mauthausen there was a gassing car that was manufactured by the warehouse locksmith's shop in 1941. According to witness statements, it was deployed from autumn 1941 to summer or autumn 1942. The car drove the approximately five-kilometer route to the Gusen sub-camp, during which inmates who were unable to work or who were sick and weak were murdered. According to witness statements, there were up to 40 trips, which means a casualty rate of at least 900 prisoners.

Gas chamber in Hartheim Castle

After the end of Operation T4 in August 1941, the existing facilities in Hartheim Castle and the associated staff were used seamlessly to murder and cremate inmates classified as incapacitated for Operation 14f13, which began in April 1941 . Up until the last prisoner transport on December 11, 1944, an estimated 12,000 prisoners from Mauthausen, Gusen and other concentration camps had been killed there.

Subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp

Mauthausen concentration camp (Austria)
Iron ore
Iron ore
Large framing
Large framing
St. Aegyd
St. Aegyd
St. Lambrecht
St. Lambrecht
St. Marein
St. Marein
St. Valentine
St. Valentine
Wr.  Neudorf
Wr. Neudorf
Wr.  Neustadt
Wr. Neustadt
Locations with satellite camps of the concentration camp and Mauthausen main camp

The concentration camp had over 40 satellite camps, the largest in Gusen , Ebensee and Melk . Many of the prisoners in the subcamps had to work for the arms industry, e. B. in the construction of aircraft parts, rifles, tanks or the construction of underground tunnels for armaments production work. A large part of the satellite camps were located in Upper Austria and near Vienna. Shortly before the end of the war, over three quarters of the prisoners in the Mauthausen camp system were incarcerated in the satellite camps. Of the at least 90,000 victims of the Mauthausen camp system, around a third probably died in the main camp in Mauthausen, a third in Gusen and a third in the other satellite camps.

Gusen I, II and III

The construction of the subcamp Gusen I began in 1939, at that time under the name KL Mauthausen / Accommodation Gusen. Gusen was 4.5 kilometers west of Mauthausen. The camp was initially set up by two work details, consisting of 400 Austrian and German prisoners, who had to march from the Mauthausen concentration camp to Gusen every morning. The construction of this Gusen part of the Mauthausen / Gusen double camp system became necessary because the daily work performed by concentration camp inmates in Gusen already exceeded the daily work performed by prisoners in the DEST facility in Wiener Graben by far. In March 1940, the first barracks were ready and were immediately occupied by the members of the two work detachments. But on May 24 of the same year, 200 prisoners were transferred back to the Mauthausen concentration camp as "sick". And so the next day the remaining prisoners were registered as the first Gusen prisoners. However, on the same day, 1082 Poles from the Dachau concentration camp arrived. In Gusen the prisoners were informed that they would now be “retrained to become useful people of the Third Reich”. In the following months, another 4,000 Polish intellectuals came to Gusen for "retraining".

The Gusen I concentration camp consisted of 34 barracks, 24 of which were prisoner barracks, two workshop and warehouse barracks and six sick barracks, which were followed by four more in the winter of 1943/44. There were also two stone buildings. In the winter of 1940/41, a permanent crematorium was built in Gusen I, in which prisoners' bodies were cremated from January 29, 1941. The inmates of KL Gusen I had to work in the Gusen quarries, in tunnel construction and in the weapons industry ( Hirtenberger cartridge factory ), where they, for example, supplied parts for carbines, submachine guns or Daimler-Benz aircraft engines for the DEST cooperation partner Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG manufactured. The cover name for this production was z. B. "Georgenmühle".

The Gusen II camp was opened on March 9, 1944 . It had been built up to 16,000 prisoners, who in the mine expansion for the top-secret Air Force project " B8 Rock Crystal " for Production Line of Messerschmitt Me-262 - jet fighters had to work. Other cover names for the top secret production in Gusen II were "Esche II" or "Linz 2".

About ten months later, in December 1944, Gusen III was opened for another 262 prisoners. The prisoners from Gusen III had to work in the construction of the Lungitz large bakery and in a spare parts store for the Messerschmitt GmbH manufacturing plants in St. Georgen and Gusen.

Since the maxim of the Gusen I, II and III concentration camps was " extermination through work ", all prisoners there who were sick or weak were quickly murdered or put to death. A total of 67,677 prisoners were imprisoned in the Gusen concentration camps, of whom 31,535 were officially killed. If you add to this number z. For example, the countless prisoners who were not even registered in Gusen, were murdered in the Nazi killing center in Hartheim or transferred to the "Mauthausen medical camp" to die, or who died after the liberation, are 44,602 victims of the Gusen concentration camps. The Gusen camps were liberated by the US Army on May 5, 1945.

Part of the quarry operations were continued by the Soviet state company Granitwerke Gusen until the 1950s . The Gusen Memorial was inaugurated in 1965 and the Gusen visitor center was added in 2004. Since 2007, the Gusen audio trail has also led through the area of ​​the former Gusen I and Gusen II concentration camps.


The Melk satellite camp in the Birago barracks was opened on April 21, 1944 for 500 prisoners and existed for exactly one year. It was housed in the buildings of the pioneer barracks above the town and had its own crematorium . Like the prisoners in the Ebensee sub-camp, the prisoners in Melk, which included many children and young people, had to dig tunnels into the mountain. The Melk sub-camp ran under the camouflage name " Quartz ", as the tunnels were mostly driven through quartz rock. The prisoners had to work in three shifts without safety precautions and with insufficient security of the tunnels. As a result, there were often fatalities, and transports from Mauthausen had to bring "prisoner supplies" on a regular basis. In the winter of 1944/45 six tunnels were then completed, all for Steyr Daimler Puch AG , which had ball bearings produced there.

5000 prisoners perished during the entire existence of the concentration camp. As in other camps, many of them were either killed with heart injections, “ shot while trying to escape ” or gassed in Hartheim Castle. As in the other camps, many of them were murdered by their guards. In mid-April 1945 the camp was cleared as the Allied troops were getting closer. The children and young people came to Mauthausen, the adults to Ebensee.

Guntramsdorf / Wiener Neudorf

The subcamp was founded on August 2, 1943 under the name "KL Wiener Neudorf". Most of it was in what is now the municipality of Guntramsdorf . The entire camp consisted of around 80 wooden barracks (including foreign and forced labor camps), 34 of which were buildings in the actual concentration camp grounds, which were surrounded by an electrically charged fence.

The construction and production of the aircraft engine plants should be accelerated with additional workers. For this reason, mainly prisoners who had experience in metalworking and construction work were requested from the Mauthausen concentration camp.

Up to 3170 concentration camp prisoners (peak in September 1944) were taken between 1943 and 1945 in the aircraft engine works, the companies Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG, Rella & Co., Hofman and Maculan, Himmelstoss and Sittner, Ing.Czernilowski and Saurerwerke Zehethofer as well Used as slave labor in smaller businesses and in agriculture in the communities of Guntramsdorf, Wiener Neudorf, Laxenburg, Achau and Vienna.

Memorials to the Mauthausen concentration camp (photo gallery)

Well-known prisoners of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its sub-camps

On March 6, 2017, a study by B. Fuchslehner et al. presented as a preliminary result identifying 157 prisoners (including 3 women) of African origin. Photos of only 3 people exist, including of Jose Carlos Gray Key from Barcelona (his parents came from Equatorial Guinea ), who fought for the republic in the Spanish Civil War and was then a member of the French Resistance. From 1942 onwards in Mauthausen concentration camp he was assigned to the camp commandant's servant and survived.

See also


  • Hans Maršálek : Mauthausen warns! Fight behind barbed wire. Facts, documents and reports about the largest Hitler extermination camp in Austria. Edited by the Mauthausen Committee of the Federal Association of Austrian Concentration Camps and Those Politically Persecuted. Vienna 1950.
  • Hans Maršálek: The history of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Documentation. 4th edition. 2006, ISBN 3-7035-1235-0 .
  • Austrian camp community Mauthausen, Hans Maršálek, Kurt Hacker (eds.): Short story of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its three largest sub-camps Gusen, Ebensee, Melk . Vienna 1995.
  • Austrian camp community Mauthausen (Ed.): Mauthausen . Vienna 1996.
  • Bertrand Perz : The Mauthausen Memorial from 1945 to the present . Studienverlag, Innsbruck 2006, ISBN 3-7065-4025-8 .
  • Bertrand Perz, Christian Dürr, Ralf Lechner (eds.): Managed violence: The area of ​​activity of the administrative leader in the Mauthausen concentration camp 1941 to 1944 (= Mauthausen studies. 8). Federal Ministry of the Interior, Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-9502824-2-9 .
  • Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel (ed.): The place of terror . History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps . Volume 4: Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Ravensbrück . CH Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-406-52964-1 .
  • Siegfried Haider , Gerhard Marckhgott: Upper Austrian memorials for concentration camp victims. Upper Austrian Provincial Archives , Linz 2001, ISBN 3-900313-69-5 .
  • Mauthausen Committee research project: Subcamps of the Mauthausen concentration camp as perceived by the local population . Contemporary witness reports, project study, 2002 ( PDF).
  • Hans Maršálek, Josef Kohl: Signpost through Mauthausen. Published by the Association of Austrian Resistance Fighters and Victims of Fascism.
  • Christian Dürr: Am Strang - The Austrian Defendants in the Dachau Mauthausen Trials , Bahoe Books, Vienna 2019, ISBN 978-3-903022-82-9 .
  • Stanisław Grzesiuk: Five years of concentration camps (= Mauthausen memories. 4). New Academic Press, 2020, ISBN 978-3-7003-2167-5 (unabridged translation of the censored Polish original Pięć lat kacetu. 1958).

The Mauthausen Studies and Mauthausen Memories series are published by the Mauthausen Memorial.

Graphic novel

  • Jordi Peidro: Mauthausen. Bahoe Books, Vienna 2018 and Federal Agency for Civic Education, FRG 2019.
  • Pedro J. Colombo, Aintzane Landa, Salva Rubio: The photographer from Mauthausen. Bahoe Books, Vienna 2019.

Web links

Commons : Mauthausen Concentration Camp  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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Coordinates: 48 ° 15 '24.1 "  N , 14 ° 30' 6.3"  E